Florida Main Street
Program of the Month
February 2008 Program of the Month
Haines City Main Street
Secretary of State Kurt S. Browning Announces Florida Main Street Community of the MonthSecretary of State Kurt S. Browning announced today that Haines City Main Street has been designated the Florida Main Street Community of the Month for February 2008. Communities are selected for this award based on their participation in the Florida Main Street Program.
"Haines City is a valued asset to the Florida Main Street Program," Secretary Browning remarked. "The city's continual effort to revitalize its downtown area and attract new business has produced significant results. Haines City consistently demonstrates the importance Floridians place on preserving our cultural and historical heritage."
The Florida Main Street Program designated Haines City a Main Street Community in 1990. Since 2002, the city's unemployment has been reduced by 58% and poverty rates declined 19%, concurrent with a 14% increase in per capita income in the same period. As a Florida Main Street Community, Haines City has attracted a net gain of 221 new businesses and 190 jobs.
Haines City is a lively community in northeastern Polk County, located between Lakeland and Kissimmee. The city has a population of over 17,000 residents and is growing steadily. Settled in the 1880s, Haines City was soon populated partially by citrus farmers and railroad workers. The area was originally called "Clay Cut" in reference to the fact that railroad tracks in the area were built into deep cuts in the clay. It is said that the tracks were cut so deep that passing trains could not be seen above the ground level. Colonel Henry Haines of the South Florida Railroad later built a train station at Clay Cut, and the town was named in his honor. Resources in the Haines City area were plentiful; settlers enjoyed wild game and fish and gathered native fruits and vegetables. The nearby pine forests produced lumber and turpentine. The fertile soil grew a variety of crops. Farmers also planted citrus trees, starting an industry that sustained the region until the present day. With the arrival of modern travel and shipping capabilities, local citrus farmers soon organized themselves. The Haines City Citrus Growers Association was founded in 1909, forming the commercial basis that would sustain the city's economy for decades to come. Still in business today, this organization became the city's largest employer and one of the state's largest co-ops.
In the last 40 years, area entrepreneurs have started a wide variety of businesses, expanding the community's economic base into manufacturing, service and retail sectors. In the early 1970s, Walt Disney's purchase and development of Disney World, just 15 miles north of Haines City, changed the entire region's economy. Tourism now ranks among the area's top economic engines.
Florida Main Street is a technical assistance program of the Bureau of Historic Preservation, Division of Historical Resources, Florida Department of State. The Bureau conducts statewide programs aimed at identifying, evaluating, and preserving Florida's historic resources. Main Street, with its emphasis on preservation, is an effective strategy for achieving these goals in Florida's historic retail districts. Since 1985, the Bureau has offered manager training, consultant team visits, design and other technical assistance, as well as the benefit of experience gained by other Florida Main Street programs.